We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.T. S. Eliot
I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel and explore the world. There’s so much fun in it!
New sights, new smells, new tastes. I sometimes think it’s the newness that’s drawn me in, and other times notice it’s the familiarity.
When I notice that a vegetable dish is almost familiar, but somehow different, it’s intriguing. How did they do it differently? Was it a certain spice? Is it how they prepared it? Do they grow those vegetables here somehow differently? How can I do something like that?
I’ll hear laughter coming out of a cafe or bar and notice that around the world, joy is expressed in similar ways. What was the joke being told? Or, was it simply the comfortable joy that bubbles up while being with friends and kindred spirits?
After more than a million miles of travel and countless connections, I began to notice an unexpected familiarity. The thread running through my travels, the similarities and differences, were all reflections of my own self in different mirrors. Each time I saw a kindness between people in a different country, it was my own kindness noticing itself. It was the same with a meanness or difficulty. What I would notice was simply coming from me.
I’ve since chosen to change my travels. My tours have been more about discovering the blind spots and twists in my own mirrors. My travels have been more about depth than distance. My exploration has taken me far away and yet brought me home, home to the place I’d started from and continued to find both in faraway places and those near.
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.